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City of Abbotsford dismantles homeless camp after fire

(File Photo)

ABBOTSFORD (NEWS1130) – The City of Abbotsford is moving in to clean up a homeless protest camp after a fire there last night. Crews are collecting combustibles at the Gladys Avenue site.

Abbotsford’s fire chief noticed a number of fire hazards while inspecting the site this morning.

Mayor Henry Braun says the risk to the public is too great to not take action. “If one of those blows up, not only will it endanger or perhaps even kill somebody in the protest camp, but people who are driving by on the street. If they happen to be here at the wrong time will also be injured or worse.”

This is the second fire at the camp. A teepee caught on fire New Year’s Eve, leaving a man with minor burns.

Braun says there’s a liability issue at play. “If we leave the site the way it is knowing what we know, if we have another fire here and somebody dies in this protest camp, the city will be accused of not having done anything and having allowed this to continue in such an unsafe situation. So I’m trying to be respectful of the protest camp, but I also have an obligation and a responsibility as mayor of this city that it’s safe for those not only in the protest camp but those who are driving by.”

Braun says the city isn’t going to look at dismantling the camp until a court challenge of the city’s camping bylaws is heard in June. He says that should clear up any concerns about what the city can or can’t do.